My four tenets of leadership
By Brig. Gen. Samuel "Bo" Mahaney, Air Reserve Personnel Center Commander
/ Published March 25, 2015
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Over the last 29 years, I have read a lot of books and blogs. I have served with and spent time with great leaders from all services and the interagency. Most of all, I have spent a lot of time at the school of hard knocks.
Now, as a brigadier general, I have boiled these experiences down to four simple tenets of leadership.
1. If you TAKE CARE OF YOUR PEOPLE, THEY WILL TAKE CARE OF THE MISSION.
I find that if I don’t live this tenet every day, then the important phrase, “Our Airmen are our greatest asset,” becomes a hollow cliché. Our Airmen readily recognize it if we don’t put them first. Job one, then, is empowering, training, equipping, recognizing, and rewarding our Airmen (both military and civilian) to achieve the highest level of mission accomplishment.
2. Foster a CULTURE OF RESPECT.
Our Air Force culture is not just about military courtesy. It is about creating a climate of respect, diversity, and inclusiveness. It is about creating a work environment that is free of hostility and discrimination. Every one of our Airmen is someone’s son or daughter, husband or wife, mother or father. We owe it to them and their families to foster a culture of respect. Such a culture empowers the highest level of mission accomplishment.
3. Create an EXPECTATION OF EXCELLENCE.
This tenet embodies the Air Force core values. In a wingman culture, every Airman, as a leader, has the responsibility to hold themselves and their wingmen accountable for their performance. Today’s Air Force is the smallest it has been in modern era. To achieve the highest level of mission accomplishment, there is no room for anything less than individual excellence.
4. Lead a CULTURE OF FEEDBACK.
Without this tenet, there is no way to ensure that we are living up to the previous three. Our Airmen must feel as if they can provide meaningful feedback that will be acted upon promptly. As a leader, I come to work each day with the knowledge that I might have my feelings hurt. I tell my Airmen that hurting my feelings through honest feedback for the benefit of our 970,000 ARPC customers is a good trade off. When the organization sees that the commander is willing to receive feedback and have honest dialogue about solutions, without retribution, they are more willing to roll up their sleeves and contribute to solving the hard problems that are preventing the organization from achieving the highest level of mission accomplishment.